Some contemporary phenomena are just recurring decimals in life. Love and romance, infidelity and suspicion in the family, backstab, politics, name it. In Vaults of Secrets, a compilation of short stories, Olukorede Yishau pops up some of these issues.
The 10-chapter, 118-page book begins with the riveting story of a lady awaiting the hangman for killing her unfaithful husband. While cooling her feet in jail, she reminisces her deceased co-jailer, Kemi, who, in self-defence from her abusive husband, killed him. Kemi, a victim of child trafficking in the United States, died of cancer.
In telling Kemi’s story, this lady recounts her own tale, as well as the ills in the prison and her struggle with leukaemia. Despite her ordeals, she continues to be the “hopeless romantic” she was before incarceration.
Each secret revealed in this book is intriguing and relatable, such that the reader can enjoy a seamless transition from fiction to fact, to history, with a sneak peek into the life of the author. For example, in ‘Lydia’s World,’ which gently takes the reader from a fictitious world to reality, Yishau’s world was used as a window into the world of books and their writers. It makes the reader privy to the feelings, thoughts and activities of Yishau as a co-reader. It also subtly promotes the book, In The Name Of Our Father.
Vaults of Secrets centres on the everyday life of Nigerians at home and abroad, the mystery and bizarre findings of one’s paternity, the regrets and losses of those who finally get caught up with the law, among others.
The book stirs one’s curiosity to the true story of those behind the walls. It reveals the pains and insecurity people face when they find out how they came to be as well as the evils of baby swapping. It further reflects the hurt people feel when betrayed by those who are supposed to love them.
Betrayal, especially in marriage, occupies a significant space in the vault. The rest compartments are shared between ‘betrayal of children’ and ‘betrayal of country.’ Betrayal of country is seen in the story of Okwy, a politician, who sold information about his country to terrorists and was later caught. When he realised his fault, it was too late to remedy the consequences of his actions on his wife and children, who suffered alongside. Nonetheless, poetic justice is served to all the Judases.
Men and women, who cheated on their spouses, have ready excuses and someone to blame. The book did not suffer them lightly.
In ‘This thing called Love,’ the author makes use of a special character, who tells the story of Jacinta, a loving child betrayed by her father and friend, but whom luck smiled on when her kindness left her at the mercy of the hangman.
Yishau takes the reader to the special compartment of a “gifted secret sniffer,” who keeps stumbling on information that, if revealed, can spell doom. This section is interesting, as it reveals the dilemma of the “sniffer” and his triumph at the end when the secret he finally stumbles on is revealed to the needy party who, sadly, was his best friend.
The author also reveals the irony of people’s actions. This is seen in the work of Conscience and its friend, Memory, on a lady named Dazini, whose childhood saviour and friend, Moses, later becomes the father of her children while still married to another man. Ironically, Moses kills his wife, whose two children are not his, while he fathered two children for another man’s wife. It reflects the irony of life where the villain goes scot-free but the innocent dies. The injustice women face in marriage is storied across all compartments.
The author makes use of various literary devices. Some of his narratives are hypodiegetic, as some of the stories are within other stories. He does it so well that the reader enjoys the twists and turns in the journey through the vaults. It also makes use of flashback, as it reflects past events that happened before some of the events detailed in the story. Personification is reflected through the character, Roy, who says, “His eyes went to the painting of a woman breastfeeding a child on the wall and he wanted to ask the woman what she knew, but he stopped.”
Vaults of Secrets also leads the reader to the spiritual world of reincarnation and dreams. “When truth dies” pricks the reader on the issue of incarnation.
Nonetheless, the reader gets to enjoy the scenery of Banana Island and the human signatures needed to access the elevator at Eko Signatures. It also takes the reader to historical sites and events in Nigeria as well as educates them on the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
Even with good story line and dexterity in weaving different stories together, the book did not make it to sainthood due to some typos and other errors, which, though, did not distort the story or thought line. With its simple language, the book is recommended for all, both learners and experts in English literature.
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